BETHLEHEM, Pa. - The Lehigh men’s lacrosse team opened a highly-anticipated 2013 season in a big way, downing visiting Saint Joseph’s 14-1 on a sunny Sunday afternoon at the Ulrich Sports Complex. Senior David DiMaria led the way with a career-high six goals while classmate Dante Fantoni tied a career high with three assists and five points. The margin of victory marked Lehigh’s largest since last year’s 13-0 shutout of Manhattan.
“I thought our guys were ready to play,” said Lehigh head coach Kevin Cassese. “They certainly came out and brought the energy and were able to sustain it for a full four quarters. I don’t think we were great or sharp by any stretch of the imagination, but I do think the guys played really hard and left it out on the field.”
DiMaria added an assist for seven points, just one from tying a career high. Sophomore attackman Dan Taylor finished with two goals and an assist as the starting attack combined for 10 of Lehigh’s 14 goals. Senior Brian Hess added two points (one goal, one assist).
“There’s no secret. Our best offensive players are in our attack group,” said Cassese. “They struggled early, but once those guys settled down a little bit, they started to let the game come to them and were able to make their mark on this game.”
Senior Ryan Snyder was stellar at the faceoff X, winning 14-of-17 with seven groundballs while scoring a fourth-quarter goal as well.
The defense carried over its stellar play from a season ago when it finished second nationally in fewest goals per game. The Mountain Hawks held Saint Joseph’s scoreless for the game’s first 33:27. Junior Ty Souders spearheaded the group with a groundball and two caused turnovers. Sophomore long-stick middie Dylan O’Shaughnessy scooped three groundballs and added two caused turnovers while senior defensive midfielder Noah Molnar posted two groundballs and two caused turnovers.
Sophomore goalie Matt Poillon stopped eight-of-nine shots before being relieved by freshman Steve Brodeur, who made one save in 5:19.
After more than 13 minutes of scoreless lacrosse, DiMaria scored two goals in just over a minute to give Lehigh a 2-0 lead after one quarter of play. Each of Lehigh’s starting attackmen scored in the second quarter as Taylor made it 3-0 at 13:33 before DiMaria scored on the extra man at 8:17 and Fantoni netted his first of the game at 6:53.
Saint Joseph’s Ryan McGee got the Hawks on the scoreboard at 11:33 of the third quarter to make it 5-1, but Lehigh responded with the game’s final nine goals to win going away. Goals from Fantoni, Taylor, senior Kyle Stiefel, and two more from DiMaria, made it 10-1 after three quarters of play.
DiMaria, Hess, Snyder and freshman Alex Eaton rounded out the scoring in the fourth quarter.
Lehigh finished with a dominant edge in shots (52-19) and groundballs (37-17). The Mountain Hawks were 18-of-21 on clearing attempts to Saint Joseph’s 19-of-22. Lehigh was 2-of-4 on the extra man while Saint Joseph’s was 0-of-1.
Lehigh returns to action next Saturday at Villanova, who’s first in “others receiving votes” in both the national coaches and media polls.
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